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U.S. bans travel from Brazil as coronavirus also surges in Mexico

By
Allen Cone
A sanitary team in Mexico City on Saturday disinfects the Jamaica Market, which is scheduled to reopen Monday despite surging deaths and cases in the city and nation. Photo by Jorge Nunez/EPA-EFE
A sanitary team in Mexico City on Saturday disinfects the Jamaica Market, which is scheduled to reopen Monday despite surging deaths and cases in the city and nation. Photo by Jorge Nunez/EPA-EFE

May 24 (UPI) -- The death toll and cases from coronavirus are surging in two Latin American nations -- Brazil and Mexico -- while the pandemic stabilizes in other former hotspots, including Asia and Europe.

The United States, despite reporting the most deaths and cases in the world, is restricting travel from those nations. The border with Mexico already was closed except for goods and essentials workers since March, and President Donald Trump on Sunday night issued a proclamation restricting passenger travel from Brazil effective at 11:59 p.m. EDT Thursday.

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"I have determined that it is in the interests of the United States to take action to restrict and suspend the entry into the United States, as immigrants or nonimmigrants, of all aliens who were physically present within the Federative Republic of Brazil during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States," the proclamation reads.

Travel also has been restricted from China as well as some European nations.

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Over the past few weeks, Brazil and Mexico have moved into the top 10 for the most deaths in the world. Both countries set daily death increases last week with Brazil second in the world and Mexico third for 24-hour totals behind the United States on Saturday and Sunday.

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Brazil's deaths have more than doubled in two weeks from 11,123 to 22,716 in sixth place, according to Worldometers.info. One week ago, the toll was 16,118. The nation reported 16,220 additional cases Sunday, following 16,508 additional ones Saturday and a record 21,472 Wednesday for a total of 347,398 in second place behind the United States.

Mexico, meanwhile, last week climbed into the top 10, displacing Canada. Its total on Sunday was 7,179 deaths after 3,353 two weeks ago and 5,045 seven days ago.

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Conversely, the six European nations in the top 10 -- Britain, Italy, Spain, France, Belgium and Germany -- have seen a dramatic decline in the number of deaths. Combined, they posted 325 on Sunday and 533 deaths Saturday, according to Worldometers.info. Their combined daily highs total 5,319.

In Asia, mainland China, the original epicenter of the virus, hasn't reported a death since April 26 and only 164 cases since then, including none for the first time Saturday, for a total of 82,974. The nation has dropped to 13th place with 4,634 fatalities after being No. 1 for several weeks.

Worldwide, the death toll was 346,434 and cases neared 5.5 million on Sunday. That includes 99,300 in the United States, which reported the most deaths Saturday: 1,036.

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Mexico had reported a record 479 Saturday and 190 Sunday. The nation updates its death total often late at night.

Mexico also announced 3,329 cases Sunday. And the infection rate might be three times higher than the government figures, according to an independent survey, Al Jazeera reported.

More than one-quarter of the deaths have occurred in the nation's capital in Mexico City where paramedics say hospitals are being inundated with patients.

The nation of 126 million people includes poor and dense population centers, making it difficult for people to self-isolate. In addition, workers need to stay on the job to earn any money.

"We live in an extraordinarily unequal country; half of all people live day by day and they're suffering," Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell told reporters Friday night. "They don't have [money for their] daily sustenance, to feed themselves. That affects their health and can affect their lives."

Last Monday, approximately 300 municipalities throughout the country -- called "municipalities of hope" -- lifted sheltering-in-place recommendations. Similar measures are scheduled to start June 1 in the rest of the country, including classes.

All but around 1,000 of the deaths in North America have been reported in Mexico, Canada and the United States.

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Like with Mexico, the border has been closed with Canada, which reported 69 more deaths Sunday after 105 Saturday.

On Saturday, Brazil reported an additional 965 fatalities, which was not far from the United States' total and one less than Friday after a record 1,188 Thursday. On Sunday, Brazil reported 703 deaths -- the most of any country and nearly 100 more than the United States, which recorded 617 deaths on Sunday.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has focused on reopening businesses as many governors urge social isolation measures.

On May 14, he said: "We have to be brave to face this virus. Are people dying? Yes they are, and I regret that. But many more are going to die if the economy continues to be destroyed because of these [lockdown] measures."

Originally, he said the virus was just "a little flu."

"It's not a flu. It's the worst thing we have ever faced in our professional lives," Dr. Jacques Sztajnbok in Sao Paulo told CNN. When asked if he is worried about his health, he said "Yes," twice.

Tests are only performed when someone has three symptoms.

"Mostly the test is done when the person is already in an advanced stage of the disease," Renata Alves, a volunteer health worker, said.

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In South America, all but nearly 9,000 of the 31,352 deaths have occurred in Brazil. Second most is Peru with 3,456.

The White House would "take a look at the other countries on a country by country basis" in Latin America for restrictions, O'Brien said.

The surge in deaths in Brazil has only happened relatively recently. On April 1, a total of 242 deaths were reported there.

By then, the pandemic was reaching epic heights in Europe. That's even before it peaked in the United States, when the toll was 6,394.

On that date, in Italy, the death toll was 13,155 -- the most in the world. Since then the count has climbed to 32,785 for third place behind the United States and Britain. On Sunday, only 50 deaths were reported after 282 on Saturday. The high was 919 on March 27 with the current toll 32,007.

Since April 1, the death toll has surged in Britain more than other counties to 36,675. The count was 3,095 on that date. In the past week, the daily death toll been between 160 and 545, including 118 Sunday after 282 Saturday. The record was 1,172 on April 21.

Primary schools will open on June 1 and secondary ones on June 15, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said during a briefing Sunday.

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"In line with the approach being taken in many other countries, we want to start taking our children back into the classroom, in a way that is as manageable and as safe as possible," Johnson said. "We said we would begin with early years' settings and reception, year one, and year six in primary schools."

Johnson, who was hospitalized in intensive care with the virus, has been criticized for his government's handling of the pandemic and calls for him to fire Dominic Cummings, his chief political aid.

The Guardian and the Daily Mirror reported Dominic Cummings and his wife traveled 260 miles across England to stay at his parents' property while sick with coronavirus symptoms.

Johnson said Sunday he wouldn't fire him.

"Enough is enough," Conservative lawmaker Steve Baker wrote in an opinion piece for The Critic website. "Dominic Cummings must go before he does any more harm to the UK, the Government, the Prime Minister, our institutions or the Conservative Party."

The death toll has been stabilizing elsewhere in Europe.

Spain is in fourth place after reporting 74 Sunday, 50 Saturday and 688 Friday to climb to 28,752. Health Ministry on Friday reported 56 additional fatalities in the past 24 hours and the big jump is due to the various regions "cleaning" their historic datasets. The high was 961 on April 2.

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Spanish Health Minister Salvador Illawarned though the situation has improved "the virus is still among us, "he said at a news conference Sunday

Nations in the top 10 reporting additional deaths in double figures are No. 5 France with 35, No. 7 Belgium with 43 and No. 8 Germany with 5. France's high was 1,438 in April 15.

Germany, with strict safety measures and extensive testing, greatly controlled the outbreak with its record 333 on April 8.

Sweden, which has been attempting "herd immunity," reported six more deaths in 16th place with 3,998 as well as 271 new cases. Neighboring Norway reported zero deaths for the second day in a row to stay at 235 as well as six more cases.

Russia continues to surge in cases with 9,434 more on Saturday and 8,599 on Sunday for a total of 344,481 in third place. Russia reported 153 more deaths to rise to 3,541 in 17th.

In all, more than one-half of the worldwide deaths were in Europe with 169,844, including an additional 569 of the 2,647 total on Sunday. On Saturday, the total number of deaths was 4,183.

Asia also has significantly stabilized. Only 394 deaths were reported Sunday to total 27,442.

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In China, three cases were reported Sunday.

The head of a top Chinese laboratory in Wuhan again rejected suggestions that it leaked the pathogen, saying the institute "had never discovered or kept" the virus before it erupted in central China late last year.

Wang Yanyi, director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology, said it was "pure fabrication" that the coronavirus leaked from the lab in an interview with state media on Saturday.

For the past week, the city of Wuhan has been working to test all 11.1 million residents. Since May 14, asymptomatic carriers, who are infected people with no outward sign of illness, have been sought -- after confirming its first cluster of COVID-19 infections since the city's release from a virtual lockdown on April 8.

South Korea has reported only four deaths in one week, including two on Sunday, for a total of 262. The cases stand at 11,165.

A few weeks ago, the nation had relaxed its social distancing. But several people who visited nightclubs in Seoul's Itaewon entertainment district during the first weekend of May tested positive for the virus.

All bars and nightclubs were shut down, and South Korean officials had tracked down 46,000 people who had contact with known infected cases linked to the nightclubs and tested them for COVID-19.

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Cases linked to nightclub rose to 225 -- 96 believed to have contracted the virus from visiting the clubs and the 129 others by coming into close contact with confirmed cases -- the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Sunday.

India reported 7,113 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours -- the country's biggest one-day surge. The death toll stands at 4,024, including an additional 156 Sunday and 142 Saturday in 15th place.

The government has announced that domestic airlines would be able to resume services starting this week. Incoming passengers would still be subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine in some states.

Elsewhere in Asia, Iran reported 58 additional deaths for ninth place in 7,417.

The death toll has been minimal in other continents.

In Oceania, neither Australia nor New Zealand reported any deaths. Australia has reported 102, with one reported Saturday. In New Zeland, the count is 21 with the last fatality on May 6.

"It is crucial that people don't relax over the weekends as we go forward," New South Wales Health Minister Brad Hazzard said after one new infection and an unconfirmed case involving a female high school student who had developed mild symptoms was reported.

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Parents have been told to stay away from school grounds, and workers are being urged to drive or walk to work.

In Africa, the death toll stands at 3,356, led by Egypt with 764 and Algeria with 600.

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